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Sunday Political Brunch - June 4, 2017: Is Impeachment Really an Option?

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(Charlotte, North Carolina) -- I was all over the place this past week on my political travels, and I was curious about one thing: Is the talk about impeaching President Trump really serious, or is it just partisan chatter? Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“To Impeach; or Not To Impeach?” – When this started brewing a few weeks ago, with little-known Members of Congress calling for impeachment and obscure city councils passing resolutions, I thought the talk was crazy. Today, I will give it the evaluation of "possible, but not probable." I’m not sure that any single action by the President would warrant impeachment, but some in Congress might rather evaluate the collective body of his actions since he has been in office.

“Would a Republican Congress Turn? – The biggest argument I hear against impeachment is whether a Republican Congress would impeach a President of its own party? At first blush, I said "No"; but, upon further review, I would give it a "Maybe," and here’s why. House Republicans won control of that chamber on their own seven years ago. They don’t owe any allegiance to Trump, nor are they in his debt. Party loyalty is no guarantee. Besides, if Republicans moved to get rid of Trump, you wind up with former Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) in the White House. He spent 12 years in the House and is still highly regarded there.

“Past History as an Indicator” – Republican President Richard Nixon was heading toward impeachment by a Democrat-controlled Congress. Democrat President Bill Clinton was being impeached by a Republican-led Congress. (Nixon and Clinton met in a rare photo op, above). But there were significant differences in both cases. Nixon finally resigned because of pressure from within his own party. Senators Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) and Hugh Scott (R-IA) were among those who went to the White House and told Nixon he was done. On the other hand, only five House Democrats bolted on Clinton, and no Senate Democrats supported his ouster (plus, a few Republicans were opposed, too). In effect, you need support in both parties to boot a President.

“The Real Issue Here” – I get it; a lot of people don’t like President Trump because he “tweets” too much, and makes blunt comments that offend a lot of people. Sorry, but those are not grounds for impeachment. But, if he truly pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s business dealings with Russia, then we have a whole different kettle of fish. The concern is whether such a request constitutes obstruction of justice. We’ll know more when Comey testifies before Congress June 8th.

“Does This Sound Familiar?” – To be clear, President Nixon was never impeached; but the House Judiciary Committee did approve articles of impeachment, including the charge of obstruction of justice. Nixon was not being charged with the Watergate burglary, but rather for the cover-up that ensued. Fast forward to 1998, when the House did impeach President Clinton for obstruction of justice – not for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, but rather for interfering in the subsequent investigation, including a charge of perjury for lying under oath to a federal judge. Here we are again, the third President in forty-three years who could face an obstruction charge.

“The Numbers are Against It” – Per the U.S. Constitution, you need two-thirds of the U.S. Senate to vote "yes" to expel a President. Let’s assume for a moment this is just a partisan fight. With 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats (including two independents) in the current Senate, you would need 19 Republicans to bolt their party. That’s a tough call. Remember: Unlike the House, where the Republicans won on their own, Republican control of the Senate is very much because of Trump’s coattails. Had he not carried U.S. Senators back into office with his upset wins in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, control of the Senate would have fallen to Democrats. Paybacks are huge chits with which to cash in.

“Why All This Matters?”—In previous columns, I have talked about major investigations in Washington, D.C., and how they can bring governing to a grinding halt. Can you name a major accomplishment of President Nixon once Watergate was in full swing? Can you name a major initiative by President Clinton once the whole Lewinsky scandal erupted? I can’t either. The only other Commander in Chief we had under the impeachment microscope was President Andrew Johnson in 1868. He survived removal from office by one vote. From what I’ve read, his administration was paralyzed and under siege and got little done in the turmoil. While he survived impeachment, Johnson was not nominated for a second term, but later won a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Given what you know today, should President Trump be impeached, or not? Please tell us why by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy: Time Life Pictures/White House/Getty Images

Sunday Political Brunch: What a Week It Was” -- May 28 2017

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(Providence, Rhode Island) – We are on the road again this weekend, but keeping an eye on all things political. It has been another crazy week, with all kinds of odd events, so let’s “brunch” on what it all might mean:

“The Body Slam Heard ‘Round the World!’ – For once, someone else has bumped President Trump off the front page – if only for a moment. Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte (R-MT) is accused of body slamming a reporter after choking him. The reporter, Ben Jacobs of the Guardian, said Gianforte assaulted him. The account was seconded by a Fox TV crew at the scene, one of whom said, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter.” Ouch, in more ways than one. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault.

“It Means Nothing Nationally” -- Until this controversy erupted, this Congressional race wasn’t even on the national radar, but now it is. Once again, you have people in the national media saying this race is a “bellwether” referendum on President Trump’s agenda, as we head to the 2018 midterm elections. It isn’t, Folks. The same was said of a special Congressional election in Kansas (which the Republican candidate won) and of an upcoming special election in Georgia where the Republicans have a good shot at keeping the seat. Every race is NOT a bellwether; every race is not a referendum. Collectively, the 2018 House and Senate races will be a sign - but not some small-town Montana race in May of 2017, which Gianforte and the Republicans won anyway.

“Pick and Roll” – Politicians with “the moves” are making all the headlines this week. President Trump – in a video that has gone viral – looks as if he’s shoving a fellow NATO member, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, out of the way, maybe to get in the front row of leaders for a photo op. Who knows? But I found the video hysterical (still photo above). It’s as if Trump was yelling “shotgun” to get the best ride in the car in high school. Some reporters and commentators are way-overanalyzing the video for some sort of larger significance. Look, it was not some great international faux pas, but it was pretty damn funny. Cue the “Saturday Night Live” skit.”

“Keep Pope Alive” – This could also be a “Saturday Night Live” skit, but unfortunately the show is in summer hiatus. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is said to be fuming after he was not included in the Trump inner circle that met with Pope Francis this week. Spicer, a devout Catholic, has had a lifelong dream of meeting a Pope. He was cut from the guest list that included First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who are Jewish. You can imagine an SNL skit in which actress Melissa McCarthy, who plays “Spicey,” crashes a motorized press podium into the "Pope Mobile," carrying the Pontiff” as if in a demolition derby.

“Bipartisan Hijinks” – Just when one party seems to have the upper hand on tragic comedy, the other steps in to compete. Within the past week, former NYC mayoral candidate and Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) pleaded guilty to federal charges of sending lewd photos to a minor. Weiner – once a rising star in Congress – is off to prison. His estranged wife, Huma Abadin, was Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “right hand lady” and would have been a top aide, or perhaps White House Chief of Staff had Mrs. Clinton won the election. Wiener’s fall from grace did not help the cause, especially after some of the classified State Department emails wound up on his computer.

“On the Upside” – Last week, I wrote about how President Trump needed to get out of Washington and to change the conversation. From the trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, NATO and Italy, he has been getting fairly high marks. To many, he looks “Presidential,” which is a quality he lacked so often during the campaign.

“On the Other Hand” – Images can turn so quickly from positive to negative. All week long, the President has been looking – well, “Presidential,” until that odd moment Thursday (mentioned above) when he seemingly pushed the other dignitary aside at NATO. It was probably meaningless; but it was funny, and the crazy moments are always going to push the good ones off the front page.

“Why All of This Matters” – Communication strategies – whether on the campaign trail or once in office – are critical to a politician’s success. Images matter. Why do you think aides to Ronald Reagan always had him against a backdrop of U.S. flags? In contrast, President Clinton was sometimes photographed holding his hand low to his abdomen during the “Pledge of Allegiance.” He looked like he was having a bout of heartburn, versus a bout of patriotism. It brought unwelcome criticism. How a President is perceived – at home, or on the international stage – matters.

What are your thoughts about President Trump’s first international trip? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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